The CEO of Ashley Madison's parent company has left for unexplained reasons, less than a week after gigabytes' worth of his private e-mail were published online by hackers who rooted the company's network.
Avid Life Media CEO Noel Biderman's decision to step down was in mutual agreement with remaining company executives, Vice President Andrew S. Ricci said in a brief statement. The departure comes as some of the leaked e-mails raised ethical questions about the company's business practices and about Biderman's personal conduct. Ashley Madison's tag line was: "Life is short. Have an affair."
"This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees," Ricci wrote. "We are steadfast in our commitment to our customer base."
Trouble began for Biderman last month when Ashley Madison employees turned on their computers and were greeted with a message, accompanied by the AC/DC song Thunderstruck, informing them that the company's entire network had been compromised. The hackers demanded Avid Life Media immediately and permanently suspend the Ashley Madison website, which helps married people find clandestine affairs, or face the release of all user and executive data. A month later, after Avid Life Media declined to go along with the demands, the attackers made good on the threat.
Since then, the hack has proved to be a public relations disaster for the dating website for cheaters. With promises of discretion, the breach has raised serious questions about the company's security hygiene and practices. What's more, social media posts have reported what appear to be several damaging revelations found in the dump, including e-mails suggesting Avid Life Media employees tried to lure men by creating huge numbers of fake profiles to inflate the number of accounts registered to female users.
The full text of the statement reads:
STATEMENT FROM AVID LIFE MEDIA – August 28, 2015
Effective today, Noel Biderman, in mutual agreement with the company, is stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of Avid Life Media Inc. (ALM) and is no longer with the company. Until the appointment of a new CEO, the company will be led by the existing senior management team.
This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees. We are steadfast in our commitment to our customer base.
We are actively adjusting to the attack on our business and members’ privacy by criminals. We will continue to provide access to our unique platforms for our worldwide members.
We are actively cooperating with international law enforcement in an effort to bring those responsible for the theft of proprietary member and business information to justice.
Please direct all media inquiries to: [email protected]
Andrew S. Ricci